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Wednesday, December 05, 2007


a faltering step toward sanity?

with the release of a new national intelligence estimate on iran, a countervailing political breeze may be evident -- and at the very least a change in tone.

Rather than painting Iran as a rogue, irrational nation determined to join the club of nations with the bomb, the estimate states Iran’s “decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs.” The administration called new attention to the threat posed by Iran earlier this year when President Bush had suggested in October that a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to “World War III” and Vice President Dick Cheney promised “serious consequences” if the government in Tehran did not abandon its nuclear program.

Yet at the same time officials were airing these dire warnings about the Iranian threat, analysts at the Central Intelligence Agency were secretly concluding that Iran’s nuclear weapons work halted years ago and that international pressure on the Islamic regime in Tehran was working.

the cheney-neoconservative alliance at the top of the bush administration has definitely been wrong-footed, and they are left now to backpedal and manufacture a nonexistent threat with even less viable material. thomas barnett is succinct:

Iran, the new NIE says, stopped its weapons program in 2003 while continuing the enrichment with an eye to energy use. This is a huge blow to the White House case for "WWIII now or second Holocaust."

You have to realize: if the National Intell Council releases this NIE now, then the Bush White House has had all this info for many months and is still pushing WWIII rhetoric.

If that does not strike you as abject and dishonest fearmongering, then you're too far gone.

Iran's choice is reasonably smart: talk big like Libya, stop short of weapons like Japan, but signal willingness to aggressively defend like Israel.

I told you these guys are not stupid.

and andrew sullivan is so encouraged as to forget the decades of drift toward an imperial presidency and proclaim, somewhat laughably in my opinion, that the system is working as a result of the democratic landslides of 2006.

i don't doubt for a moment that, as sullivan reminds, replacing the incredibly corrupt donald rumsfeld was both a positive step and a concession to the political reality fo 2006. and i'm even willing to countenance that his replacement, robert gates, is concerned enough about the continuing recklessness of the vice president's office to leak these damning details.

but that does not undo the years of the drive toward unfettered executive authority. and i suspect arthur silber is dead right to say that it really does very little to alter the course of events between iran and the united states.

In the most critical sense, I don't care about this latest assessment, just as I did not care about the earlier ones, about Iran or on any other subject at all -- for in addition to the rather important fact that such assessments are invariably wrong, I recognize that policy decisions are made on different grounds altogether. Moreover, in terms of U.S. foreign policy, I don't care if Iran does get nuclear weapons. As I have noted before, I do not view it as a remotely good thing that any nation has nuclear weapons, including the U.S. -- and I remind you once again that it is only the U.S. that has used them, when it did not have any legitimate reason for doing so and when it lied about every aspect of its actions and their consequences. But in terms of an Iran with nuclear weapons five or ten years in the future: "So Iran Gets Nukes. So What?" But the bipartisan commitment to American world hegemony has not altered in the slightest degree. The criminal catastrophe of Iraq is irrelevant to our ruling class, and it has not caused them to alter any of their most crucial goals.

As I said above, this latest NIE makes it considerably more difficult for the administration to use this particular argument to justify a criminal act of aggression against a non-existent threat. But if the administration is determined to attack Iran, they have plenty of other arguments to use, and many of those arguments have the full and enthusiastic support of the Democrats. See "The Worsening Nightmare," and the numerous related essays listed there: the drive to worldwide dominance, by means of military force as required, is a fully bipartisan affair, as it has been for over a century and especially since World War II.

it would at least seem that there is opposition even within the administration to attacking iran in the coming year. but will that matter? in the long run, very probably not. the dynamics of resource warfare remain.

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